Ex-AKB48 Mariko Shinoda gets own Peach airplane

Written by: William on October 28, 2013 at 11:35 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 3 Comments

Can’t get enough of your favorite (ex-)AKB48 starlet? Now you can a take a flight “inside” her vessel.

Okay, enough with the puerile references, though AKB48 is hardly a stranger to dubious not-so-subtle sexual overtones.

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant

Local LCC Peach Aviation launched its first Narita route yesterday with flights now taking passengers from Osaka to Tokyo for less than ¥4,000 one-way. To celebrate, they got former AKB princess Mariko Shinoda to help them promote the service and even specially decorated a whole aircraft in her likeness!

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant

The Airbus A320-200 — aka the “Mariko jet” — looked about as glitzy and cutesy as you can get, while Mariko no doubt made a lot of fantasies come true by dressing up as a cabin attendant for the occasion.

According to the official press release, for what it’s worth, Mariko apparently designed the uniform and plane herself!

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant

She then saw off the first passengers from the terminal gate with a radiant smile and a high-five for everyone, before boarding and flying on the plane (her plane?) herself.

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant

We can only imagine what it must feel like to have an entire airplane painted in your own Big-Brother-Is-Watching-You-like size portrait.

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant

Now a whopping 27 years old — positively ancient by idol standards — Shinoda’s popularity amongst AKB48 fans appears to show no signs of flagging, despite her age forcing her to make that venture out into the post-AKB desert. Apparently the sky’s the limit! Or is it rather that her career is up in the air? After, Peach is no ANA or JAL.

mariko shinoda akb48 peach airplane jet plane cabin attendant


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Other categories: CULTURE, LIFESTYLE

Typhoon Wipha, biggest in ten years, hits Tokyo

Written by: William on October 17, 2013 at 8:12 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

It was the largest typhoon to hit Tokyo in ten years and, as expected, yesterday morning brought havoc to the city.

The once-in-a-decade storm, Typhoon Wipha, was even worse in the Izu peninsular, where dozens are missing and nearly 20 dead.

While all eyes were initially on Fukushima and how the nuclear power plants would cope with the rainfall, the downpour and high winds caused chaos for transport in Tokyo, and hundreds of flights and bullet trains were cancelled.

In Tokyo, one woman died after falling into a river.

To get a sense of what it was like trying to go to work as normal on a typhoon-hit Wednesday, take a look at the watery images that Japan’s internet users have been sharing.

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

typhoon wipha hit tokyo big storm ten years decade

[Source: Matome Naver]



Get married on the JR Yamanote Train Line in Tokyo!

Written by: William on June 20, 2013 at 12:31 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

It’s the most famous train line in Tokyo. The JR Yamanote Line defines the geography of the city, encircling the center, running a loop around the notorious “empty void” in the heart — the Imperial Palace.

It links the old Shitamachi area in the northeast right through the financial powerhouse district around Tokyo Station, down to new developments like Shinagawa and then back up through major fukutoshin new centers like Ebisu, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. And its fleet of 200-meter-long trains carries millions of passengers every year along the 34.5km of track, more than some entire subway networks in major cities around the world.

jr yamanote line wedding tokyo train

Formerly called the Yamate Line until 1971 (you can sometimes still spot signs for this in the older stations), it is comprised of 29 stations, most of which also connect to other lines. (A new one is on the way.) Trains come every few minutes and it is notorious for crowding in the morning rush hour and after midnight, when frantic drunkards scramble to pack themselves in to be shuttled to a major terminus along the loop for their final train out to the suburbs.

In short, the JR Yamanote Line is an icon. And now you can get married on it.

jr yamanote line wedding tokyo train

Yes, JR East Japan is currently looking for newly weds who want to hold their marriage ceremony inside a train carriage on the Yamanote Line. (Most newly weds actually do the legal side of things at their local government office sometimes months in advance of any “ceremony” or “party”.)

Only one couple can get the chance — and you have until July 9th to apply!

The ceremony will then be held on October 14th, which is actually “Railway Day” — and also fits with the custom of getting married in the clement autumn season. There is no cost to the ceremony; JR no doubt reckon they will get more than enough publicity out of the campaign to justify a few free bottles of bubbly.

It is all part of the fiftieth anniversary of the Yamanote Line, which famously features only trains with green carriages.

jr yamanote line wedding tokyo train

The happy couple will ride the train for around one hour, completing one loop, though details will be finalized in consultation with the wishes of the bride and groom.

However, you must agree to having the media be present to film you (I guess you wouldn’t then need to hire an official wedding photographer) and also then hold a dinner reception (hiroen) at the Hotel Metropolitan Ikebukuro, for which you foot the bill yourselves.

Okay gents! If you’re a train geek, you’ve got a couple of weeks left to find a lady, propose and then apply for the wedding.


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Category: CULTURE

The (dis)courtesy of commuters and priority seats

Written by: Mina on April 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

It’s a common perception among foreigners that the Japanese are polite and respectful. They say that the Japanese show, if not innately have, good manners in public and seem to act orderly even under the most chaotic circumstances. While these comments sound like a great compliment, showing how disciplined and trained the Japanese are, sometimes I see ironic signs in public which make me wonder what “real” politeness entails.

I’ve been commuting in Tokyo since I was fifteen. An-hour-and-a-half commute to school wasn’t really a hassle for me partly because I was young enough to be able to switch my mental modes quickly from being in a daze to insanity while crushed on a deadly crowded train, and back to the my-brain-is-still-not-working mode. At least I knew there would always be something to look forward to at my destination. As cliched as it might sound, high school indeed was one of the best times of my life (though I should probably mention that I went to four different high schools, and I’m referring to only ONE of them here).

Now that I’m grown up, every morning I have to force myself to get on a train and ensure the same craziness that I somehow almost effortlessly managed to maneuver back when I was still a teenager.
The only “politeness” I can see here is people standing in line before getting on the train. Respect for others? Forget about it.

Another example is a sign of courtesy (or priority) seats.

Source: Tokyo Metro

Some people might think that the sign is intended for the younger generation who, supposedly don’t even know the meaning of the word “courtesy” yet. However, what I have seen in my years of commuting life is the opposite of this assumption. When a space opens, the first group to start up a competition is often middle-aged, tired-looking salarymen.

If one’s fatigue could be accurately measured on the basis of facial expressions or simple gestures, I would not make a single complaint about who should take open seats on trains. I would be more than happy to give my seat to whoever gets on the train in business suits. Salarymen indeed are the most tired-looking people you encounter on trains.

Source: Bureau of Transportation, Tokyo Metropolitan Government

But do we really need to see that reminder or hear the automated announcement on the use of courtesy seats every time we get on a train? In fact, because of its sign and different color they chose for courtesy seats, now even the tiniest thought of occupying one of the seats makes me feel guilty. And if someone ever has to feel guilty to be courteous, then her act only comes from the fear and shame of not being courteous enough.

Does this even make sense?

Yokohama once removed all signs on its subway trains in an attempt to promote the message of “all seats designated for courtesy manners”. However, the great majority of elderly people answered when asked if they had been offered seats on trains after the change that the effect of the new policy was almost marginal. Now the signs are back, once again to remind all passengers to avoid the designated area if they want to secure their seats.

In contrast, New York City Transit made the act of refusing to offer a seat (on request) punishable by up to a $50 fine. While we definitely have to consider both sides of the story, my 84-year-old grandma would probably choose to receive that $50 instead of getting a seat on a train. (She once told me not to treat her like an elder — go grandma!)


Tokyo Metro subway new 2013 manners posters go romantic for April

Written by: William on April 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm | In LIFESTYLE | 2 Comments

In case you didn’t notice, it’s April and with the “cruellest month” comes a change in the fiscal year. Hence lots of emails from people announcing they are changing jobs or departments at work.

And Tokyo Metro starts a new series of posters advising its passengers to ride the subway in a courteous way.

tokyo subway metro manners poster 2012

Last year’s series was slightly ageist (of course, the only people who do bad things on trains are youngsters!) but popular, mainly for its incongruous monkey character. We feel that if you actually brought a small black monkey (no matter how cute!) onto a crowded Tokyo subway train, that might constitute a serious breach of etiquette — much more than cutting in line or answering the phone.

Anyway, the new financial year’s posters are off to a romantic start.

We can understand the pink theme in this April poster (it’s cherry blossom season, though the rain would have us believe otherwise), but the “heart” is surely a bit too much of a metaphorical jump.

tokyo subway metro manners poster april 2013

The slogan is, literally, “manners are heart”, and I guess it means that courtesy is about being “full of heart”. It works in some ways — and certainly in Japanese, where kokoro (heart) can also mean soul or spirit — but the first things surely most people will think is that it’s a very tardy advertisement for a Valentine’s Day subway train campaign.

You can peruse previous year’s posters, one per calendar month, as well as check on the progress of 2013′s, over on the Metro Manner Poster website.


UNIQLO launches UT POP-UP! TYO inside empty Toyoko Shibuya Station

Written by: Nicholas Goluch on April 1, 2013 at 10:51 am | In LIFESTYLE | 1 Comment

As we’ve mentioned previously on JapanTrends, the Tokyu Toyoko line has recently merged with the underground Fukutoshin subway line at Shibuya Station. The merge has made the commute from outside of the city faster, and the Fukutoshin a little more useful. It’s also left a pretty hefty space left wide open in Shibuya station.


Whether you live in Tokyo, or not, it’s safe to say you know what a crowded city it is. There are literally millions of people in the streets at all times. Shops, restaurants, vending machines and train stations occupy every tiny space. If you want to get really particular, there are even all of the above within the train stations. Finding space for a new shop in Tokyo can be a pretty tough job.


So, in the spirit of no space wasted, UNIQLO has opened a pop-up t-shirt shop called UNIQLO UT POP-UP! TYO on the Toyoko platform. Literally on the platform.


While you’re sifting through hundreds of t-shirt designs, if you take a moment to look down, you’ll notice that the tracks are right below your feet. Or that you’re walking along the yellow line you’ve been so conditioned to stay behind.


The shop has more than 1,000 varieties of UNIQLO t-shirts, and boasts an inventory of over 12,000 garments on hand for sale. Given that this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for a shop like this to exist, UNIQLO is launching 100 new designs while the shop is open.


UNIQLO actually has a history with train stations, having for a few years now already been operating mini branches (more pop-in than pop-up) inside the ticket barriers of major terminals, including JR Shibuya. This is also not the first store dedicated to its UT (UNIQLO T-shirts) line either, though it is the biggest.

The Toyoko Station pop-up is only open until April 7, so get down there and see it for yourself. And, you can get a t-shirt too!

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All aboard the Pokémon Train in Tohoku

Written by: Maite on March 29, 2013 at 8:36 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

During the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th, 2011 many of the victims or people affected were children. So the “Pokémon with you” project was started to support the disaster-struck region and give children there the feeling that Pokémon will always be with them.

pokemon with you header

Pokémon makes them smile again, helping them to face tomorrow and making their dreams come true.

pokemon with you 2

One of the “Pokémon with you” projects is the Japan Railway East Pokémon train, a sightseeing train.

For the first time the train isn’t simply just decorated with Pokémon on the outside, but the whole interior also now takes the passengers into the world of Pokémon. This includes a playroom that looks like a forest, and also so-called “communication seats” to enjoy the scenery outside together with the family or friends while having a nice chat.

pokemon with you 3

Since December 2012 the train has been running between Ichinoseki station and Kesenmema station with several stops to collect stamps and take pictures at the photo spots with Pikachu and co. Of course, you can also buy merchandise charity to support the children in the Tohoku region.

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Other categories: PRODUCT INNOVATION

Tokyo’s train lovers refuse to say sayonara to Shibuya station

Written by: William on March 20, 2013 at 11:54 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

A minor revolution has occurred in Tokyo transport. The Tokyu Toyoko line has gone underground at last for the stretch between Shibuya and Daikanyama, spelling the end for the 48-year-old Tokyu Shibuya Station.

Finally we can utilize the much-neglected Fukutoshin Line, that whisks passengers from Shibuya up to Ikebukuro and beyond, and which will be sharing platform space with the new Toyoko Line terminal. The idea is that you will be able to hop over to the Metro and zip up to Shinjuku and northern Tokyo without having to go up and over a lot of staircases to battle the crowds of Shibuya when making your transfer.

tokyu toyoko line shibuya station change fukutoshin train underground

The Shibuya Tokyu Toyoko Station was a much loved if strange beast, with passengers on the platforms visible despite being a storey above ground level due to the semi-transparent station wall (i.e. with odd open parts in the building, jolly cold in the winter), especially if you were using the pedestrian footbridge to walk over the Tamagawa-dori, Roppongi-dori, Aoyama-dori junction on the east side.

You can compare the old station (left) and the “new” one (right) in the images below. (As a side note, I presume the “H E L” that is cut off would spell “Hello”, rather than the word that might more accurately describe Tokyo’s trains, at least at rush hour, “Hell”.)

tokyu toyoko line shibuya station change fukutoshin train underground

Some train fans (densha otaku) have been taking the demise of the Toyoko Line very personally. There was a mad scrum to ride the trains during the final day of its existence in its old form, capped by some passengers literally refusing to leave the station.

This hilarious footage captures the scene of passionate geeks having to be forced through the ticket gates by station staff.

This is what the final day for the station was like.

Now the otaku must enter a brave new world of a Toyoko Line that is underground, at least until Nakameguro.

tokyu toyoko line shibuya station change fukutoshin train underground

The old Shibuya Station concourse will be an event space until May. Otsukare!

[Images via Asahi]


Design your own train carriage running from Tokyo to Yokohama

Written by: William on December 12, 2012 at 11:36 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Fancy decorating a train?

To celebrating the opening of the direct connection linking the Tokyu railway (which runs from Tokyo to Yokohama) and the Metro Fukutoshin subway line on March 16th 2013, Tokyu is holding the aptly named “Paint Train Contest”. While you don’t get to daub a locomotive with your own actual physical brush, you do have the chance to see your design adorning the exterior of carriages when they start running on the new line next year.

paint train contest tokyu

You can create and upload your design completely within the website, meaning even the none Adobe-trained (no pun intended) likes of yours truly will also be able to submit an idea. If that sounds like it might limit possibilities somewhat, take a look at the palettes, patterns and “stamps” you can play around with.

paint train contest tokyu

Submitted carriage designs then are showcased on the digital tracks on the website (running from Yokohama’s Chinatown to Kawagoe), which can be previewed and shared by visitors over the usual social media channels.

paint train contest tokyu

Applications are being accepted until December 31st. 16 people’s designs will then be selected to feature on real trains. Currently there have been over 2,000 “trains” submitted.



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